Grad School Roller Coaster

Rohit Khare (
Fri, 17 Jan 1997 10:07:57 -0500

> So Rohit, how does it feel to have college applications out
> of the way (again)?
> Adam

Man, it feels like the calm at the eye of the storm. One step to any side
and I'll be ripped to shreds. I also feel completely drained, numb to life
right now.

I have an incredible amount riding on this now. Two years ago, as a callow
undergraduate, I was all over the map and I wanted to do grad school out of
obligation and inertia. Now, I need this, very, very badly for the
technological opportunity and as a base to learn how to grow up. I've been
in a kind of suspended mode where I've been running at school things
continuously and I live under constant, self-imposed pressure. This is an
opportunity to "reset" and try a long-haul thing for the first time in my
life. And in large measure, that means SoCal, because I need my friends
more than ever.

Anyway, the list is: Caltech, MIT, UC Berkeley, and UC Irvine. I *may* add
Urbana and Berkeley SIMS, their new School of Information Management and
Systems. I am developing a clearer research agenda all the time, and I need
to pursue it -- I can't cope with "work" right now, with its compromises
and politics and big-money lifestyles.

I'm attaching my MIT Statement as an example, to get some feedback. Please
be honest, don't just say it looks great because it's too late to change
it. I need to know how to tack it when lobbying around here.

Thanks for your support,
Rohit Khare


Statement of Objectives -- MIT EECS (Area II) -- KHARE, Rohit

In the spring of my senior year at Caltech, I surprised myself by putting
aside traditional options of graduate school or Silicon Valley to join the
brand-new World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) at MIT. Working full-time on the
Web was such an exciting prospect I wrapped up my degree work early to
report for duty in the Web security wars. Over the next two years, the
Consortium grew from three people on the third floor to thirty on three
continents and I gained hands-on experience with an incredible range of
Web-related technology. Better yet, beyond exploring the new frontier and
writing specifications in a cubicle, I had the opportunity to go out in the
world and collaborate with the Web industry, academics, and other
consortia. As W3C's in-house "technology expert", I developed a broad
enough understanding of the field to even go on to editing our quarterly
World Wide Web Journal.

Working at W3C has been a unique opportunity to see into the future. I am
reapplying to MIT's Computer Science Sc.D. program to aim further: to move
beyond developing today's cutting-edge technology to researching the
long-term challenges ahead for massively distributed information systems. I
believe my work experience has helped me develop the focus, professional
depth, and skills to succeed in graduate school. LCS's strength in
Information Infrastructure research, in turn, makes it an ideal place to
leverage my interest in Internet technology. Finally, pursuing a doctorate,
with all the research, teaching, and publishing abilities it testifies to,
will help me achieve my goals for developing distributed systems in

My dream is to help design infrastructure and applications for tomorrow's
global information systems. As the latest wave of distributed applications
such as the Web and streaming audio/video explode in popularity, many
centralized subsystems at the heart of the 'decentralized' Internet are not
coping well with vast increases in scale, mobility, and bandwidth. I
suspect that these forces will drive the development of peer-to-peer
naming, addressing, routing, and caching strategies. At the application
layer, developers are adapting to the same changes by adopting distributed
objects, transaction services, and messaging middleware. I've been
impressed by several MIT groups which are investigating these problems,
notably the Advanced Network Architecture team and the Infomesh project.
W3C itself is also exploring part of this agenda; I hope that by changing
my role from staff to student, I can help forge new academic links between
LCS researchers and the Web Consortium.

Doctoral study is an opportunity for me to build upon my talents and
passion for networked systems to help reach my career goals. Many of the
best distributed systems designers I have worked with came from industry or
industrial research labs and had Ph.D.s, even those who migrated to
Internet technology from other fields. That's proof that it requires
serious dedication and scholarship to develop perspective on the thicket of
interrelated issues facing massively distributed information systems
developers. I want to dedicate myself to this path because I know why I
want the degree, because I am prepared for it, and because LCS's
Information Infrastructure agenda matches my interests.


My career choices have exposed me to many aspects of distributed systems
design. As an undergraduate, I studied parallel and object-oriented
programming extensively because Caltech specialized in the former and my
personal interest in commercial software development and early advocacy of
NeXTstep led me to the latter. For my undergraduate research, I designed
and built eText, a collaborative, interactive hypermedia textbook engine
used to teach parallel programming techniques. As eText evolved into one of
the world's first visual Web site authoring tools, I began encouraging
other developers to establish interoperable standards for exchanging URLs
and HTML files. Launching the WebStep group and editing its specifications
introduced me to the W3C.

At W3C, I learned more about the interplay between distributed systems
technology and application areas. As I branched out from Web security and
cryptographic protocols to electronic commerce, content rating, privacy &
demographics, and trust management, I kept coming back to fundamental
issues about the extensibility and expressive power of the Web. So while I
investigated these concrete scenarios for the W3C Technology & Society
domain, I also developed PEP, an abstract model for adding extensions and
negotiation to HTTP. Along the way, I've enjoyed the opportunity to work
with world-class experts on security, Internet protocols, and policy issues
from academia and from our corporate members on each of these projects.

These experiences and MIT classes have prepared me for graduate school by
focusing my research interests and by developing my project management,
writing, and speaking skills. I have learned to organize and lead
workshops, supervise students, edit technical specifications and
architecture documents, and work through the IETF and W3C standardization
processes. I have also been responsible for outreach to other communities,
including invited talks at DARPA, DIMACS, RSA Data Security, and National
Research Council workshops. My broad involvement with W3C has also prepared
me for my current role writing a series of survey papers which will
hopefully culminate in a book on Web Architecture.

[An online version of this statement with links to the various talks,
project, papers, and groups mentioned in it is at ]